sunday – second day of carnival

I wake up at home and I’m a sweaty, crumpled mess in a grave of tangled bed sheets. my mind is only home to a thick wall of foggy, hangover-ed memories, and my mouth is as dry as if I had eaten handfuls of cotton balls. the sun is white and blinding to my sleep-deprived eyes, high in a cloudless sky.

it’s already a bit into the late morning, just a couple of moments away from lunch. I’ve missed the early morning call to today’s street fest, but it doesn’t matter. it is only the second day of this all, still in the peak, in the finest of fines moments and we’ve got plenty choices to fill this hot, sweaty afternoon as we please.

in this stage between dream and conscience, my mind travels to memories of last night and I sing a little song to myself, my voice raw. we did scream to the top of our lungs for quite a while. and my legs throb, the muscles hard from the extraneous walking and dancing and my stomach rumbles from eating only hot dogs and beer for a whole day. but it is a bright new day, this pretty, young thing that is the holy-day, so I get up and get coffee and brunch, put on my costume, and off I go, out the door and into the light.

however, before the doors hits my ass, my mother looks at me crooked, disapproving, but it’s a brand new day, so leave me be. give me a glass of water, some aspirin, please, and let me, for I’ve got places to go and people to see, mother. and no, I don’t know if I am coming back today.

this is a secret only the pagan gods can tell, a fortune only them can predict.

***

the drums beat tum-dum-dum-dum-dum, like a heart, and the sax plays, and it is mellow and contagious. tambourines jiggle, their zils like a thousand Brazilian angels flapping wings. all voices are one. they sing of the past and of how good it was.

but truth is that it was never better. never will be. it won’t get better than this.

ooohhhh, que bom que era!“, they say.

***

and when night falls, I find myself stumbling upon mountains of garbage piled on top of sidewalks and hefty crowds of drunks. my costume is halfway off already, my own bottle of beer falling to the sides, leaving a trail of foam and warm gold behind me. a couple of steps in front of me, a group of about twenty young men are dressed in skirts and orange wigs, belching marchinhas as if the world would end tonight.

arm in arm, I join the singing. we hug, as makeshift sisters, as, for tonight, blood and booze brothers.

but my feet are killing me, blisters atop of blisters, and the stupor of the booze is wearing off and I’m tired. the air is sticky, humid and clings to the bones, and my hair sticks to every part of my scalp, as the city seems like the furnace that warms up the devil’s breath. but, the people around sing and sing and, far away, I can hear a lonely radio play softly, among the tornado of voices, the last songs from an ending friendly barbecue. and, strangely, suddenly, I’m comfortable. I could walk for days in this desert of happiness, of feeling.

so I do.

***

at last, the subway ride on this final leg of the trip home is calm and uneventful. people catch some sleep and sober up on every corner, sitting on the floors, resting against the poles, half their costumes lost to the crowd, the heat and to the asphalt gods. in front of me, a cute couple kisses, she a cat, he, a clown… kitty is so exhausted she can barely look her lover in the eyes. I yawn.

she yawns back, a full open mouth, eyes watering with tiny sleep tears. then, she rests her head on the window and, outside, the lights go and go and go, faster, trailing the way, staying behind us. their loss. the next station is closed and dark, – no passengers allowed on Presidente Vargas station – lit only be red L.E.D.s that announce the train’s destination. sleepy, tired Vargas, he whom endures such harsh bullshit on normal weekdays, people coming and going, ever so impolite, enjoys in carnival a well deserved rest too.

and the subway pulses in waves of sleep. my usually deft fingers feel thick, heavy, and my head starts to drown. but it is a good drowning, it’s Morpheus waters, a sea of bubbling yellow alcohol and the last drops of adrenaline. and my ultimate bit of energy is drained, and I stir in my uncomfortable plastic seat, heavy as led as I fall to the dirty subway floor, it exhausting – but peace finds me.

until tomorrow, carnival. until tomorrow.
night night.

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